Here's five takeaways from Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry's Oct. 8 press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
1. Despite missing two sacks against the Eagles, Barry still remains confident in Ryan Kerrigan as a playmaker.
While Kerrigan's statistics to this point of the season (11 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass defensed and one forced fumble) are not where they were a season ago, and he let two wide-open sacks on Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford get away from him, Barry feels Kerrigan is still a player the Redskins can rely on.
Was being held out of the preseason a factor of his slow start?
Maybe, maybe not; but Barry believes it was the right move to make for a player the team had just signed to a long-term contract.
"I still stand pretty firm on the decision the medical staff made with him not playing in the preseason," Barry said. I don't know how much Ryan Kerrigan is going to get out of playing in the preseason, still. I still feel good with that. Ryan is playing his butt off. He really is. He's doing a lot of good things for us. As we've talked before, no one is harder on himself than Ryan Kerrigan."
As for his two missed sacks?
"It would have been good to get those two, but it's like when we're at the rec center playing basketball and you get a breakaway, and you go up and clang a layup and everyone says, 'You can't miss the layup!'" Barry said. "He missed a couple layups, so hopefully it doesn't happen again."
2. Bashaud Breeland's performance against players like Dez Bryant and others last year "absolutely" gives the young cornerback confidence.
While DeAngelo Hall slowly works his way back to the field after suffering a toe injury against the Giants, and while Chris Culliver deals with a knee injury (a recent MRI revealed no structural damage), the Redskins may have to ask Breeland to be the team's top cornerback against the Falcons.
In that role, of course, he'll be tasked with going one-on-one with the Falcons' top wide receiver, Julio Jones.
Jones is already well on his way to building yet another Pro Bowl season, as he's recorded 38 receptions for 478 yards and four touchdowns in just four games.
Some cornerbacks might be weary of facing someone of Jones' talent, but Breeland will play confident against the two-time Pro Bowler.
"The thing about it, you've got to obviously give those great wideouts their due because they obviously deserve it," Barry said. "They're game changers. But also at the point you've got to be able to do what you do and not get completely out of whack. No, I'm glad that we do have a guy like Breeland that has been able to go against top-notch wideouts and perform very well."
READ MORE:Bashaud Breeland Ready To Bounce Back
3. It doesn't matter if he's playing nickel corner or safety, Barry has been impressed with rookie Kyshoen Jarrett.
The Redskins weren't expecting for Jarrett to be much of a contributor on defense this season, but through his own play and injuries to the veterans, the Virginia Tech product has worked his way into a key role as the unit's nickel corner.
"He just got better and better and better with it," Barry said of Jarrett, listed as a safety, playing cornerback. "He played really well against St. Louis and played very well again last week. He's an unbelievable kid. He's still a rookie. He's going to make rookie mistakes, but he just loves football. He's into it. He just one of those mature rookies that really works at it. It was exciting to see."
Through the first four games of his Redskins career, Jarrett has recorded eight tackles and a pass defensed.
For a guy that's willing to do anything, Barry expects those numbers to grow as the season progresses.
"Obviously every guy that's on a NFL football field has the skillset, but I just think what he brings to the table is just the bulldog mentality," Barry said. "He's tough. He has got unbelievable work ethic. He's got unbelievable 'want-to.' I think he's one of those guys who was a late round draft pick, so I think he's always working to say, 'Hey, I deserve to be here.' It's exciting when things like that happen for young players."
READ MORE:ROOKIE SPOTLIGHT: Kyshoen Jarrett
4. "Self-scouting" the defense is important so that tendencies don't becoming easily predictable moments.
Barry said its key for the defense to mix things up so that they don't get exposed by doing the same things over and over again.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' defense and special teams preparing for their Week 5 match up against the Atlanta Falcons Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
"I think that's something you always have to look at and gauge and make sure that you're not becoming too predictable in what you do," he said. "No different on offense. Offense, obviously, offensive coordinators self-scout themselves as well. But we're still a firm believer, too, we're going to do what we do really well. We're going to do what we've practiced in OTAs and what we've practiced in training camp and what we've practiced in eight games — four preseason, four regular season. But, yeah, you've always got to make sure you stay ahead of the curve as far as self-scouting yourself."
The defense showed some different looks last Sunday against the Eagles including sending Kerrigan and Trent Murphy from the same side on pass plays.
"When we go into a four-down, they can really line up anywhere," Barry said. "We have the ability to line them up over the guard if we want. It takes a special type of guy and I think all four [outside linebackers] have traits to be able to stand up and rush, drop, whatever. Same thing out of a three-point when we get into a four-man-down look. They've got the ability to rush, they've got the ability to drop. It's nice for us because with having that flexibility you are able to do a lot of different things with those guys. They clearly fit the mold of being able to do both."
5. Atlanta's offense presents a bullish challenge, but the Redskins will be ready.
There's no denying how hot Atlanta's offense is right now.
Jones is one of the league's leading wide receivers, quarterback Matt Ryan enters Sunday's game with more than 1,200 passing yards and 102.2 quarterback rating, Devonta Freeman has a league-high seven rushing touchdowns and, yes, even Leonard Hankerson is getting in on the fun with 241 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
It will be quite the test for the Redskins' defense, but one they'll be up for.
"Kind of like Kyshoen is a great example of taking advantage of an opportunity, [No.] 24 [Freeman] for them is the same thing," Barry said. "Taking an opportunity and taking advantage of it. He's played his tail off the last two weeks, not only running the ball but catching the ball also. Obviously No. 2 [QB Matt Ryan], No. 11 [WR Julio Jones] – great players, no doubt about it. They've got a bunch of really good players. I've been going against Roddy White for years. He's a great player. [No.] 85 [Leonard Hankerson], who was here, he's I think third in the league in third down receptions right now. They've got a bunch of guys across the board."